Wetter winters could be forecast months ahead.
American Geophysical Society Meeting, San Francisco, December 2001
Pressure system secrets could help long range forecasts.
The rise in levels of greenhouse gases has halted an oscillation of air pressures over the Arctic, bringing warmer, wetter winters to Northern Europe, Siberia and Alaska. The shift could get worse with increasing CO2 emissions, delegates heard this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California.
Scientists used to think that the AO was completely random. But in 1995 James Hurrell of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, showed that it actually follows a 10-year cycle and that since the 1980s the seesaw has been stuck in its positive phase1. "This has an impact on winter surface temperatures," says Hurrell.
Recent estimates suggest that the skewed AO may account for half of the warmer winter episodes and rainfall in northern Atlantic areas such as Scotland.
Working with the computer models used to forecast Britain’s weather, Gillett calculated the impact of a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels (expected to happen by about 2040) on the AO’s intensity. He found that the additional CO2 would keep the AO in its positive phase and strengthen its effects.
Most experts agree that the skewed AO is probably caused by greenhouse gases, according to climatologist John Wallace at the University of Washington in Seattle. Although he cautions that climate models are never perfect.
What happens to the AO in the absence of man-made perturbations, on the other hand, is open to debate. One suggestion is that increasing tropical ocean temperatures cause the phenomenon. Another proposes that long-term cycles high in the stratosphere, six to thirty miles above the Earth, are driving it.
New evidence presented at the meeting by Mark Baldwin, of Northwest Research Associates in Bellevue, Washington, suggests that fluctuations in the stratosphere’s thickness are linked to the AO.
Although the effects of the stratosphere will still be amplified by an increase in greenhouse gases, the finding is otherwise good news, says Wallace, because the frequency of the waves are known. "These stratosphere waves could make 60-day forecasts possible," he says.
What’s more, longer-term fluctuations in tropical Atlantic temperature contribute to the power of stratospheric waves, so it should be possible to predict weather seasons in advance, says Wallace. "One day we might be predicting the likelihood of a certain number of cold snaps in the coming year," he says.
TOM CLARKE | © Nature News Service
In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy